Treating Sunscreen as a Free Public Service

Treating Sunscreen as a Free Public Service
Arts & Culture

Public health campaigns in Boston and Miami Beach are calling for free sunscreen dispensaries

Daniela Walker
  • 31 july 2015

Sunscreen dispensaries might become as ubiquitous as water fountains if the city officials of Boston and Miami Beach have anything to do about it. Both cities have been trialling free dispensaries of SPF 30 sunscreen as a measure to get more people to protect their skin.

In Miami, 50 dispensaries are dotted throughout the city, while this July 30 dispensaries were placed in popular parks around Boston including Boston Common. Neither program is currently coming at any cost to the taxpayers. The Boston sunscreen dispensaries were funded by skin-cancer organizations the Melanoma Foundation of New England and Make Big Change, while the Miami Beach dispensaries were gifted to the city for its centennial celebration in March 2015, a move sponsored by Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“Skin cancer and melanoma are among the most prevalent cancers and they’re also among the most preventable,” Matt O’Malley, the Boston city councilor who proposed the sunscreen initiative told local news station WBUR. “So, what we are doing in Boston is, we’re offering a service, we’re promoting public health and we’re reminding folks of the importance of sunscreen—at no cost to the taxpayer.”


Indeed, a recent article in The Atlantic exposed how little knowledge there actually is when it comes to protecting one’s skin against the sun, revealing that in a recent poll by dermatologists, only 43 percent of people knew what SPF meant.

Despite the fact that skin cancer is one of the most common—and preventable cancers—people still have a tendency to shy away from slathering on the protective cream. The free dispensaries aim to change that behavior by both being a subtle reapplication reminder for those who already wear sunscreen as well as an encouragement for people who do not use it on a regular basis.

“We want a safer and healthier community,” Philip Levine, mayor of Miami Beach told Forbes. “Whether it’s reducing pre-cancer or sunburns, it’s a way of helping our tourists and our residents,” he said. “It’s not just about treating people when they have a medical problem, but about preventing the problem.”

Melanoma Foundation of New England | Make Big Change

Photos: Melanoma Foundation of New England

+Make Big Change
+Mount Sinai Medical Center

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